Category: Event

New Year’s Day

 

 

January 1 is always the same

A bacchanal of sound and fury

Signifying something ineffable

Precisely timed though

Imprecisely valued

 

We pause to notice the flow

Of time’s endless river

Hoping to gain some measure

Of how far we’ve sailed

Or at least gratitude

 

To be journeying for

One new day

One new month

One new year

One last chance

 

 

 

A poem by Franklin Oliver

 

© Gayle Force Press 2015

 

 

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Race Day

 

 

Camper cities

Traffic for miles

Checkered flags wave

In all directions

Coolers full of Bud

Dirt cheap sunglasses

Tank tops

Jake the snake

Around Brother Henry’s neck

Grilled brats and burgers

“Show us your tits!”

Naps on the infield

Day long engine drone

A rainbow of cotton candy

Tires over the fence

Some foreign guy wins

May is beautiful

 

 

 

A poem by Franklin Oliver 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2004

 

 

 

The Cuckoo Clock Is Ticking: The 2016 Presidential Election Forecast

 

Four and eight years ago, I made public disclosures about my predictions for the Presidential elections. In both elections, I got the entire map correct. <back pat> (I was especially pleased with 2012;  virtually nobody got that one right.) The streak probably stops at two. 

 

 

This year, I have far less confidence in polling data, the American polity and my own ability to read the tea leaves. However, the conversation keeps coming up so I might as well give it a shot. What do I have to lose? Besides the rest of my sanity…

 

So here’s my map: http://www.270towin.com/maps/RJjN4 

 

Go ahead, explore it, analyze it, mock it. I’ll wait.

 

My prediction is that in a couple months, Hillary Clinton will be the first woman since Catherine the Great to be the most powerful person on Earth.

 

Yup, I have it Clinton 342- Trump 196. That includes a couple tricky oddities. 1- Omaha area district peeling off for her as it did Obama in 2008 and 2- Clinton winning Ohio  despite polling leads for Trump. I figure that between Kasich’s disdain and The King’s support, Trump has to contend with two of the three most important men in that state. (I assume Urban Meyer is a Trump voter.)


I also kept Utah, Arizona and Georgia red. Those all feel very tricky to me. Utah, because of the Evan McMullin factor, would not surprise me if Trump, Clinton or McMullin won. Trump’s disastrous misadventures in wooing Mormons are the stuff upon which a reality show might be based. If he wins there, it will be because of voter inertia. If Clinton or McMullin wins, it will be because there is a rare, genuine opportunity to send a political message. In that battle, I generally assume inertia will win out.

 

Georgia is just a mess. Ditto for North Carolina but for different reasons. We should just accept that North Carolina is now a blue state. Tar Heel blue in fact.

 

I’m also not going to be surprised if Arizona goes to Clinton. Just because McCain resurrected his campaign doesn’t mean Arizonans are actually going to support Trump.

 

The surprising takeaway from a 342 number for me is that it would push Clinton beyond Obama’s Electoral College haul in 2012. I’d never have guessed that a year ago.

 

One more day until history’s made!

 

 

FDO

 

 

 

 

Barry Bonds Making History

 

Fifteen years ago, Barry Bonds broke what used to be one of the most hallowed records in American sporting life. He hit 71 and 72 home runs in a single season. 

 

When, in 1998, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa launched their epic chase to breach Roger Maris' 61 HR mark established in 1961, the nation rejoiced. America began falling back in love with baseball its ugly strike led to a 1994 season with no World Series. Even when most of us recognized something deeply suspicious about the Hulking physiques of these sluggers, we all smiled and kept watching

 

Three years later, the greatest (and surliest) player in recent memory hit bomb after bomb in a whole new world. Steroids were perceived as the worst destructive force the game had ever seen. The luster of the home run was gone. And outside his home park in San Francisco, fans mostly watched Bonds with begrudging eyes. 

 

I, instead, marveled. Sure, Bonds had enhanced his body dramatically. That seemed de rigueur in that era. I didn't hold him more responsible for steroid use than any other player. His excuses of using the BALCO derived "cream" and "clear" without knowing what they were seemed absurd and childish though perhaps they were a necessary fiction. The reality is that no one else was pursued for using steroids in quite the way Bonds was. Far more than his newfound power, Bonds' disdain for reporters and media etiquette was always his real crime. 

 

Let's remember, baseball is a game that requires exquisite timing and nearly instantaneous decision making, especially in the batter's box. Due to Bonds' unprecedented hitting acumen he was the recipient of astonishing numbers of walks, intentional walks and pseudo intentional walks. (This pattern only grew. In 2004, Bonds reached base 376 times on only 373 plate appearances. NOT a typo.) Despite seeing so few pitches because of the (understandable) desire of pitchers to avoid him, he maintained an unbelievably high rate of success. 

 

Now that the dust has settled and Bonds has been fired from his only post-retirement job in baseball, let's please take a moment to acknowledge the real life history we were able to watch a decade and a half ago. Let's remember when the greatest player since Willie Mays did what no one has ever done in the history of baseball. And enjoy it. 

 

 

FDO 

 

Mike Pence- Trump’s Best Hand?

 

I’m looking forward to watching Tuesday night’s Vice Presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. Part of my intrigue is the Trump campaign’s effort to use Pence to appeal to women and moderates. After living through Pence’s term as Governor and watching his antics in the House for the previous decade, I find it telling that Trump’s team is convinced that there is a chance this strategy will work. Pence is a smart, seasoned politician with the kind of governing credentials Trump lacks. What he can’t do is build bridges.

 

There is a laundry list of examples of Pence’s firebrand divisiveness. Whether the issue is abortion, contraception, the superiority of Christianity or his efforts to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ Hoosiers, suffice it to say Pence has more than earned his rep as a FAR right attack dog.

 

The most pertinent recent example involves the thousands of Hoosier women who have participated in a group called Periods for Politicians formerly Periods for Pence. As Governor, Pence supported the kind of restrictive, intrusive anti-abortion law whose provisions sound like they were dreamed up in an Saturday Night Live writer’s meaning. Then dismissed as too unrealistic.

 

Perhaps the Trump campaign is correct in assuming that Pence’s placid demeanor and friendly mien will create the kind of sane, sympathetic image that was supposed to be the hallmark of compassionate conservatism. If so, tonight will be the most successful public event for Republicans since the dawn of autumn. (Poor Kelly Ayotte.) It will also be a shocking change of form for the people Pence governs.

 

 

FDO 

 

Ten Years Gone

I have lots of favorite days every year. Rachel’s birthday, Jake’s return from summer break, 46118 Christmas… They’re all beautiful days for me every year.

 

Today is always the worst.

 

My mom died on October 1, 2005.

 

Rachel and I bought a car that day. It’s the first and only new car either of us have ever owned. We drove to my parents’ house where Rachel, my dad and I talked about the car, discussed my new job at Brebeuf and had as normal a conversation as is possible when someone is dying of cancer in the big bedroom.

 

My dad and I spent part of the afternoon in that bedroom talking about our plans for the next stage of Mom’s care. We came to some decisions and made sure Mom was warm; shared some laughs and tears and rubbed Mom’s feet and arms; we talked about how well we could manage to continue making good choices for her and discussed how we could take care of each other.

 

A couple hours later, Dad called to tell me Mom was dead. My initial thought was confusion; I didn’t know what he meant. When he repeated himself (I’m so sorry I needed him to say it a second time…), I squealed. I groaned. I uttered a primal, urgent sound that I’ve never heard before or since. It was the sound of my soul being sucked out of my body.

 

I was on autopilot as I drove back to Mills Road and I sped as though I could somehow manage to hold on to something of my mother if I just arrived quickly enough.

 

The last thing I clearly remember from that entire day was thinking how mad Mom would be if I killed myself driving recklessly on 465. 
I think I slowed down.

 

In the intervening decade, I’ve lived a wonderful life. The gifts of love I’ve received have blessed me beyond measure. The heartbreaks of living have reminded me how much I continue to love the people in my life.

 

And every single day, I miss my mommy.

 

Today is always the worst.

 
 
 

Where Do You Stand?

 

Every spring, my US History classes learn about the Vietnam War. For most students, it’s a new experience to study Vietnam. Invariably, students have an important misconception about the war: they presume most Americans were opposed to fighting in Vietnam. When I share evidence that the war was incredibly popular for years and never became statistically unpopular, they often feel shock. The reason is simple. People lie about their support for the Vietnam War. It’s now the cultural norm to acknowledge it as a bad war. People want to be on the right side of history in their memory, if not in their actions.

 

We are already seeing a similar process unfold regarding the Iraq War. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has repeatedly lied about opposing the Iraq War. Why? Again, it’s culturally preferred to acknowledge that Iraq was a bad war. That means average citizens rewrite their positions in much the same way Trump does. These kinds of lies have become both ubiquitous and casual. Unless you’re a public figure, who will take the time to go back and discern where you actually stood on Iraq more than a decade ago?

 

But, do you remember? Do you remember what you thought a year after the September 11 attacks when President George W. Bush insisted Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was part of an axis of evil? Do you remember Donald Rumsfeld telling us all that Iraq was intimately connected to al-Qaida? Do you remember whether you told your family, friends and co-workers that we needed to invade Iraq or that it would be a horrible mistake? I’m guessing you do. I’m guessing that sending Americans to fight, kill and die in Iraq mattered enough that you thought about it and made a choice.

 

Well, what about now? If someone asked you about Iraq, would you tell them the truth? Would you acknowledge the wisdom or folly of your choice?

 

You already know where I’m going with this, right?! 2016 features the clearest choice between Presidential candidates in modern times. We have major party candidates with stark differences in experience, temperament, perspective and vision. The hallowed middle ground for which presidential campaigns usually compete is a void this year. And at the ballot box, America will make a genuinely historic choice between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

 

A decade from now, there will be an established cultural norm about this election. And in the referendum of history, Americans will have a story to tell their friends and family about where they stood at this decisive moment. What story will you tell? Will that story be true?

 

In 2016, where do you stand?

 

 

 

FDO

 

 

 

 

On the Death of Elie Wiesel

 

In considering the death of Elie Wiesel, I want to recognize the contributions Wiesel made to the world. He won the Nobel Prize for Peace, wrote and taught for decades and constantly stood on the side of the oppressed.

 

His most enduring work is the book Night. It’s a fascinating and horrifying look into the realities of life in Nazi death camps. Part of the power of the book is that its author survived the Holocaust and was here to tell us about it.

 

Night is not a straight history textbook and although it is intimately connected to Wiesel’s experience, now that Wiesel is dead, that connection is certain to falter and diminish. Probably sooner rather than later.

 

I think the process will be this. Night has already moved from being labeled an autobiography and is now often categorized as a memoir. Eventually it will move into the realm of historical fiction. (Did everything happen exactly? Didn’t he use some quotes? How could they be accurate?) And as the living memory of the Holocaust fades altogether, Night will become considered fiction. At some time in the not distant future, it will be forgotten as factual.

 

I'm confident this process will happen because anti-Semitism is alive and well. The same lies, misinterpretations and stereotypes that allowed much of Europe to embrace the Shoah in the 1940s continue to exist and receive sanction by important people all over the world.

 

(Ask for info if you don't believe me.)

 

That's why it is imperative that people of good will all over the world use the occasion of Elie Wiesel's death to celebrate his life, his accomplishments, his work and his story. To celebrate the continuing existence of the people of the book. And to ALWAYS challenge those who would obscure the truth.

 

Elie Wiesel has dramatically improved the world with his life. Let us commit ourselves to continuing to improve the world on the occasion of his death. Make sure the ripples he sent forth are amplified.

 

 

Forever.

 

 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2016

 

World B. Free

This poem helps explain why I'll always be in love with basketball.

 

 

Twenty-five years ago

I went with my dad

To an old stadium

Gone and dearly departed

If not regretfully

To see my Indiana Pacers who

I loved stridently

At home

In the new Curtis Mathes set that

How were we to know

Lasted far too long

 

 

But there in person

For the first time

Was a different kind of feeling

Since they were bad

And most of my focus

Started and stopped on a man named

World B. Free

Although I’m not sure how much of

This poem

Is true

I have no doubt

About World B. Free

 

 

It started with his hair

Though it was not exceptional

Except in its lack of exception

Stuck in a time

I may never understand

But all the rest fit too

How much he loved the game

Even when it was an awful game

And tried without ever looking

As if he were trying

 

 

Mostly though

The shooting

Like little orange only rainbows

Up and down

With no gold at the end

Only more orange

And then at its beginning

The look that might have been a smile

If he’d known no one was watching

 

 

At the end of the game

It seems that no one else noticed him

Because watching him play

Might have kept someone from skipping school

As it did me from stealing gum

Off the too short racks

Meant to taunt me

At the store

But lots of kids did that

And their parents drank too much

Cheated with a waitress

Then left home

(Not because of the children)

Even though they’d seen World B. Free

On the court downtown

 

When I asked later on

My dad said he used to be called Lloyd

That may well be

But he was always World B. to me

  

 

© Gayle Force Press 2002

 

 

The Dancing Game

 

Yes, it's true that a) I don't celebrate Valentine's Day and b) don't think of myself as a romantic poet. Still, here's a snapshot of love. Share it with someone you love.

 

-FDO

 

 

Floating through a crowded wedding reception

We never discover the dance is a game

Focused on age or longevity

Not questioning but celebrating it,

Giving it a privileged place

 

Other couples fade from view

Just when they’re supposed to

While we keep dancing

Oblivious to the predetermined competition

That’s captured everyone else’s attention

 

The music’s still playing

Which proves to be enough for us

To continue holding each other close

While we keep on dancing

 

 

© Gayle Force Press 2007